Archive for August, 2006

Tell Us About Your “Nightmare Client”

August 30th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Every copywriter, graphic artist, Web designer, and service professional has had at least one “nightmare client.”

My friend Jim Alexander, founder of Alexander Marketing — a great B2B ad agency in Michigan — once told me: “I can handle a client who is ignorant. I can handle a client who is arrogant. But not a client who is both.”

If a client is ignorant but not arrogant, you can do great work for him, because he will let you, for the most part, run the show — and look to you for advice and guidance.

If a client is arrogant but not ignorant, he may be demanding, but you can learn from him — and take your work to the next level.

A nightmare client, to me, is one who is both ignorant … he doesn’t know anything about your service or skill … and arrogant: even though he doesn’t know anything, he proceeds to dictate to you how to do your work.

Have you ever had a “nightmare client”? What were they like? What did you do about it? Did you keep working for them? Or did you “fire” that client?

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Category: General | 21 Comments »

Are You a Commodity?

August 28th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Has your service become a commodity?

If so, you will have an increasingly difficult time selling your service — and competition will force your prices so low it becomes tough for you to make a decent living.

For instance, an aggressive self-promoter recently e-mailed me that he was the greatest proofreader on the planet and that I needed him because he found typos on my Web site.

I asked him what he charged. When he replied, I told him: “I have GREAT proofreaders already working for me for half that price. I just haven’t made proofing every page on my huge site a priority yet. So why should I hire you?”

Of course, I never heard from him again, because he had no idea of how to answer my simple objection.

Do YOU? When a prospect says to you, “I can get someone to do X locally for half the price you charge,” do you have an answer to overcome this powerful objection?

How do you, in an era increasingly driven by technology and speed — not creativity and quality — differentiate yourself from all the others out there providing a similar service?

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Category: General | 26 Comments »

Do You Nickel and Dime Your Vendors?

August 21st, 2006 by Bob Bly

Do you nickel and dime your suppliers?

Do you always or usually select the low bid for services?

Perhaps you should not, advises businessman George Newman.

“Sometimes it pays to overpay,” says George in an interview with Bottom Line Personal (9/1/06, p. 7).

“The best service professionals usually are in the greatest demand,” he says.

Newman recommends that when you find a vendor you like, you should do what you can to make him like you more than he likes his other clients.

Reason: you will get better treatment, quality, service, and turnaround.

How about you?

Do you buy business, professional, and personal services based on the low bid?

Or are you willing to pay a higher price to (a) hire the most experienced and qualified vendor, and (b) motivate them to do the absolute best they can on your project?

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Category: General | 14 Comments »

Sex in Advertising

August 16th, 2006 by Bob Bly

A marketing manager for a management consulting firm (NOT a client of mine, by the way) e-mailed me a couple of photos of his firm’s consultants at a client engagement along with a simple question: which photo should they use in their new capabilities brochure?

The two photos were:

(a) An average looking, middle-aged male consultant giving a flip chart presentation to a roomful of male clients.

(b) A young, blond, and extremely attractive female consultant giving a flip chart presentation to a roomful of male clients.

Both people were real employees of the firm at an actual client engagement — the same client, in fact.

I thought I could answer quickly, but then I was stumped.

Does it really matter which consultant you use in the photo? Should it matter?

If it makes a difference, would business clients be more persuaded by (a) the middle aged (and presumably more experienced) male or (b) the younger and frankly sexier (but not overtly sexy; she was dressed in appropriate, conservative business attire) female?

How would you vote — and why?

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Category: General | 31 Comments »

What’s Hot in Marketing and Advertising Today?

August 10th, 2006 by Bob Bly

A colleague recently asked me, “What’s hot in advertising and marketing today … what’s the latest and greatest?”

He gave “buzz marketing” as an example — but I told him that was already old news. Still relevant and real, but not the flavor of the week.

We also rejected “integrated marketing” (big in corporate marcom) as too old and dull — and “grass roots” marketing because most people don’t really understand what it means.

So let me ask all you smart marketers who read this blog: what’s hot, new, big, and exciting in marketing, advertising, and PR today?

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Category: General | 41 Comments »

Is B2B Different Than B2C?

August 8th, 2006 by Bob Bly

In a recent post on this blog, JS proclaimed that there is “no difference” between business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing … noting that both are just “business to people” marketing.

But is that really true? Is selling a Happy Meal really the same as selling enterprise software to a Fortune 500 UNIX data center manager?

If JS is right, then there is absolutely no need for the countless seminars, speeches, courses, books, articles, and publications devoted to B2B.

I do NOT agree with JS. I can think of at least half a dozen significant differences between B2B and B2C.

Here’s one: the business buyer is typically much more knowledgeable about the product than a consumer.

For instance, the typical homeowner knows nothing about the roofing shingles you are trying to sell him.

But a professional roofer knows a lot about shingles and their installation — a lot more than the copywriter writing the ad, most likely.

What about you? Do you think B2B and B2C are basically the same … or fundamentally different?

If so, what are the important differences — and how do they affect your marketing efforts?

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Category: General | 35 Comments »

The Myth of the Liberal Arts Education

August 2nd, 2006 by Bob Bly

When asked whether young people today should go to school to gain specific job skills, a high-level educator at a prestigious university said, “They should enroll in a liberal arts college so they can learn how to think.”

This is the myth of the liberal arts education: that liberal arts teach you to think, but technical disciplines don’t.

Well, as a B.S. chemical engineer, I can tell you that the assumption that a specialized or technical education does not teach you to think is wrong.

Engineers, in particular, master problem solving skills that serve them in virtually every area of work and life.

What a liberal arts education DOES do that a technical education doesn’t is make you better read and more well rounded.

When I went to college in the 1970s, most majors required you to take only 8 or 9 courses in that subject out of a total of 32 courses required for an undergraduate degree.

But as chemical engineers, 25 out of our 32 courses had to be math, science, and engineering … so yes, we were less well-rounded than the liberal arts majors.

But you don’t need to go to college to become well read and well educated.

You can do that by visiting your local library and becoming a voracious reader … for free … and save yourself $100,000 in tuition.

Dear Reader, what kind of education do YOU have — technical or liberal arts?

Which do you think serves a person better in today’s world, and why?

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Category: General | 23 Comments »